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Strong Pitching Lead Bandits in Two Games

Strong pitching performances and solid hitting from the Bandits (30-19) was the formula to slow down the recently hot Tennessee Diamonds (15-33) Saturday as the Bandits swept the Tennessee ballclub in a double-header at Judson University in Elgin, Ill.

In Game 1 of Saturday’s double-header, a pitching duel between Team USA pitchers Eileen Canney (3-5) of the Chicago Bandits and Monica Abbott (6-9) of the Tennessee Diamonds ended in a 3-0 win for the Bandits. The win ended a four game losing skid for the Bandits, stopping the hot Tennessee Diamonds who have picked up six of their 15 total wins this season in the last 10 games.

The Bandits got to Abbott early, scoring all three of their runs in the bottom half of the second inning. After leadoff singles from the Bandits’ Jennie Finch and Angela Findlay, a throwing error by Abbott on a Nicole Pauly bunt put the two Bandits runners across homeplate. The next batter for the Bandits was left-fielder Emily Friedman, who singled to bring Pauly in for the Bandits’ third and final run of the inning and the game, as Abbott settled in retiring 12 of the final 13 Bandits batters she faced in a complete game, six hit performance including 5 strikeouts. The loss for Abbott brings her 2010 record to 6-9, despite a 0.82 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 111.1 innings of work.

Bandits pitcher, Eileen Canney, threw 5.1 innings of four-hit, shutout ball from the pitcher’s circle before being replaced in the circle by Nikki Nemitz (7-2), who completed the seven-out save, her fifth of the season.

In Game 2, the Bandits’ bats and pitching started where they left off in Game 1, ending in a 5-1 win over the Diamonds. The Bandits honored third basemen Stacy May and pitcher Jennie Finch in a pregame ceremony. May and Finch are set to retire from professional softball at the conclusion of the 2010 campaign and both of their numbers were retired as a part of the pregame celebration.

May excited the sold out crowd at Judson University after the pregame ceremonies with a lead-off bomb to give the Bandits an early lead over the Diamonds. From there, it was a solid pitching duel between the Bandits’ Kristina Thorson (10-5) and the Diamonds’ Megan Gibson (4-9), until the bottom of the fourth inning when a lead-off single by the Bandits’ Amber Patton was followed by a Rachel Folden error-inducing groundball that brought Patton around the bags to score. Three batters later, Bandit right fielder Emily Friedman hit a towering two-run homerun to give the Bandits a 4-0 lead.

The Diamonds threatened in the fifth inning with an RBI double from Shanna Diller with no outs. After a pitching substitution to bring in Bandits rookie Nikki Nemitz, the Bandits, behind Nemitz were able to stifle the Diamonds’ offense for the remainder of the contest, including six strikeouts in 11 batters faced for Nemitz who recorded her second save on the day and sixth of the year.

The Bandits will finish off their 2010 regular season schedule tomorrow, Sunday, August 22 at Judson University in Elgin, Ill. to a sold out crowd. Standing Room Only tickets are available, however. The contest will mark Stacy May and Jennie Finch’s final home games in a Bandits uniform before their retirement from professional softball.